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Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) have been detected in most patients following infection. It has also been suggested that the specific CTL response, which may play an important role in delaying disease in infected humans, may decline during the course of disease progression. We have measured HIV peptide specific CTL precursor frequency by limiting dilution analysis in two healthy seropositive patients whose fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBM) specifically lysed MHC matched target cells (restricted by HLA B27 and B8 respectively). The frequency of HIV peptide specific CTL precursors is high (3 x 10(-3)-10(-4], but lower than estimates of circulating CTL with the same specific cytotoxic activity present directly in peripheral blood using the same sample (10(-2)-10(-3]. We suggest that this difference may result from terminal effector CTL differentiation in the T cell lineage. This implies that only a subset of CTL effectors have growth potential, whereas relatively higher levels of CTL with lytic activity can be detected in PBM of healthy HIV seropositive patients.

Original publication




Journal article


Int Immunol

Publication Date





707 - 712


Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Gene Products, gag, HIV Seropositivity, HIV-1, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Immunologic Memory, In Vitro Techniques, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic